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Gerry Adams speech after Ian Paisley Snr steps down as First Minister

5 June, 2008

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has spoken in the Assembly about Ian Paisley Snr after he stepped down as First Minster today.

Check Against Delivery

"Ian Paisley has been a part of the political landscape in the north for as long as I can remember.

He may be pleased to know that it was his desire to visit the Falls Road - Divis Street - in 1964 that first whetted my interest in Irish politics.

His journey from those days to where he now sits have been well chronicled.

And my views on his role for most of his career are also well known.

So, I will not dwell on that today.

Except perhaps to note - and he will forgive me for this - that he is the living proof of why a politician should never say never, or 'never, never, never'.

Today I want to commend Ian Paisley. Today is a day to praise Caesar not to bury him.

So, I want to thank Ian Paisley for the way he fulfilled his role as First Minister, alongside Martin McGuinness.

He certainly had a lot to put up with.

I also want to commend Martin McGuinness who also had a lot to put up with.

Both these leaders together proved that politics can work and that far from being the 'problem parties', derided by begrudgers and naysayers, Sinn Féin and the DUP proved that progress could be planned and achieved, and that difficulties can be overcome.

And a chairde there is a public expectation that this will continue to be the case in the time ahead.

And that is a huge challenge for all the parties represented here, and especially for your successor and the rest of us.

Ian Paisley and I did not to meet until recent times and he did not talk to me directly until March 26th last year when we agreed the arrangements which led to the re-establishment of the political institutions.

Throughout all of our engagements I have always found him cordial and respectful.

And I am convinced that the good humour and grace and enthusiasm he displayed in public, was good for public confidence, and for all the people of this island.

So, I wish Dr. Paisley well.

I also want to extend my best wishes to his wife Eileen and to all of their family.

May I commend her on the best speech of the last year.

That is of course, the remarks she made at the Boyne site last month.

There is an seanfhocail or proverb in the Irish language - Is fear feasach, go cinnte, é an duine a h'athraíonn treo ar leas an phobail agus is fear adhúil é an duine, a mhaireann fada go leor le tairbhe a bhaint as.

It's a wise man who can change direction for the common good and it's a lucky man who lives long enough to enjoy it.

So good luck.

Go n-éirigh an bothair leat agus leis do chlann." ENDS

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